Planning for the Future to Protect your Child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
Thinking about a time when you may not be here to support your children can be frightening for parents. If you have a child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their future can be especially difficult to think about as they may have varying needs throughout their lifetime. It’s natural to worry about how your child will manage without you and what effect any changes will have on them.
Leaving an inheritance to a child with SEND
Most of us are aware that we should make a Will to set out how we want to provide for our family. Unfortunately, dying without having a Will in place means that you have no control over how your assets are distributed to family members. For families with a child with SEND, not putting in place the right plans to reflect the family’s individual circumstances can cause huge problems. This blog identifies the problems and discusses the options.
A person with SEND can be extremely vulnerable, especially when it comes to managing financial matters and making important decisions. It’s important to consider that leaving money directly to a person with SEND may increase their vulnerability and leave them open to financial abuse. Your child may have the required mental capacity to make financial decisions, however, they may make unwise decisions or they could be vulnerable to influence from others to spend any inheritance inappropriately or even give it away.
Leaving money directly to a child with SEND in a Will can also have a detrimental effect on any means-tested benefits they’re entitled to. When receiving financial support in the form of means-tested benefits and/or local authority funding, a financial assessment will be carried out to determine the person’s eligibility. This assessment will take into account any income and capital that they have and, depending on the amounts, this may affect their entitlement to benefits or funding.
What can I do?
A Trust can be a useful tool to provide financial stability for your child with SEND throughout their lifetime. It allows you to provide for your child without making a gift directly to them by placing your assets under the control of Trustees. The type of Trust required will depend on the individual, the flexibility needed and the value and type of assets involved. The most appropriate type of Trust to consider is a Discretionary Trust.
A Discretionary Trust is one where more than one person may benefit, and it’s for the Trustees to decide how and when any of these beneficiaries, but particularly your child, will benefit from it. You can ask the Trustees to put your child’s needs first, and benefit the other people later. There is a very specific type of Discretionary Trust that can be suitable for protecting vulnerable beneficiaries. It is known as a Vulnerable or Disabled Person’s Trust. This type of Trust can be used where the main person to benefit from it qualifies as a ‘vulnerable or disabled beneficiary’.
Benefits of a Trust
The advantages of using one of these types of Trust is that they avoid the need to leave an inheritance directly to your child with SEND.
As mentioned, the Trustees are in control of how the Trust is used to benefit your child and they will make decisions about how to use any assets held. This protects your child from having to make difficult decisions for themselves and from any negative influence from others.
Also, the beneficiaries of these Trusts do not have any fixed entitlement to receive assets from the Trust, so any assets held in the Trust will not affect their entitlement to means-tested benefits or local authority funding.
Our team specialise in planning for the future for families with a child who has SEND, including help with benefits. To discuss your family’s individual circumstances and the options available to you, please do get in touch I email@example.com I 01273 610 611